by Joel Blain, guest contributor
A year ago at Storage Mississauga, we were experiencing a decline in the sale prices of units that were put to auction. This was due in part to how the demand for used furniture, tools and materials was in decline, in a consumer economy where you can have most anything you want at “no money down.”
The typical buyers of these units were second-hand dealers accustomed to paying 5-10 cents on the dollar of value. Our solution to this dilemma was to find a better way of marketing of these auction units to a broader audience, hoping to find “user” buyers and achieve a higher market value for unit contents.
Given the success of online venues such as eBay, Craigslist and Kijiji, the idea of an online auction was a no-brainer. But as with most good ideas, the implementation is more critical and challenging than coming up with the idea.
We began by hiring a videographer to make short videos of the unit contents. In the first video we detailed the contents. This proved to be in error, as it seems that in most cases, the mystery has more value than the actual contents. It also cost a lot more recording time. We now do a simple pan of the unit contents from the open door.
In the beginning, we ran our auction bidding process through eBay. This worked well, as it gave a signature of credibility to what was a new process for our buyers. The advent of the TV shows Auction Hunters and Storage Wars was the icing on our cake. Our site visits jumped tenfold, from just under a 1,000 visits per month to just under 10,000 visits.
Although eBay gave us some initial credibility, its site rules limited what we could demand as a completion time frame for the buyer. Not to mention they charged us a 5% processing fee— which would have been fair if they were providing the buyers, but in our case, we were. eBay was only providing the bidding platform.
We have since migrated to our own onsite bidding, and are in the process of incorporating a shopping cart system that will mandate that bids be guaranteed by a credit card.
The net result has been a dramatic success. Auction unit sale prices have risen dramatically, in some cases exceeding the outstanding rent— generally three to four times greater than they were previously. Another benefit is that we no longer have to host the physical crowds of onlookers that show up for a traditional public auction.
This is a guest blog post by Joel Blain with Storage Mississauga. If you’d like to contribute to this blog, send your article topic idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.